I have done a lot of reading as I work towards becoming certified in Clinical EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques or “Tapping”). It is a self-help tool that one can do by themselves or be guided in to help release emotional baggage.
One thing that is made abundantly clear is that childhood matters! What happened to you when you were young has massive impact on your adulthood, even if your childhood was several decades ago!
I am not advocating (and neither are the books I am reading) that we blame our childhoods for our behaviours: “I had a rough childhood. That’s why I am a workaholic/jerk/unsuccessful business owner/etc. I can’t help it! I can’t change the past.” Rather, I am proposing that by exploring our childhood experiences, shifting our emotional relationship to those experiences and heal our past emotional wounds, we can release the emotional baggage we carry, break ineffective thought patterns we learned in childhood, change our genetic expression, heal our bodies, and reach our potential.
Does that sound unrealistic?
I’d like to share with you a combination from 2 of my textbooks, Genie in Your Genes and Psychological Trauma, both by Dawson Church.
There is an undeniable link between unresolved childhood trauma and adult disease. Though adverse childhood experiences are usually thought of as “emotional” or “psychological,” and conditions such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure are usually classified as “physiological,” the body understands no such distinctions.
In the 1990s, a landmark study was conducted by Kaiser Permanente, a huge hospital chain, in collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Called the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, it examined the health of 17,421 patients at Kaiser hospitals (Felitti et al., 1998). The researchers found that traumatic childhood events were associated with physical disease much later in life.
The physicians at Kaiser scored patients on various measures of family functionality. Stressors included an alcoholic parent, divorced or separated parents, a parent who was depressed or who had a mental illness, and domestic violence. Over half the participants had experienced one or more of the defining childhood stressors, and where one stressor was present, there was an 80% chance that others were too, leading to a web of family dysfunctionality. A low score meant few stressors; a high score indicated several.
The study found that a person raised in such a family had five times the chance of being depressed than one raised in a functional family. Such a person was three times as likely to smoke. Participants who scored high on the family dysfunctionality scale were at least thirty times more likely to attempt suicide than those who scored low. A man with a high score was 4,600% more likely to use illegal intravenous drugs.
Traumatic childhood events were associated with all the primary adult health risks or diseases including bone fractures, cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, smoking, suicide, and diabetes.
The genetic links between nurturing and gene expression in children have been traced in other studies. One found that children with a gene producing an enzyme that metabolizes neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine were much more likely to become violent in their teens, “but only if they were mistreated as children.” Loving parenting is epigenetic therapy. Now that we understand this, our society should be pouring every possible resource into supporting parents and nurturing children, instead of ignoring abuse till the horrible results appear in later years.
Many other studies have found associations between psychological distress and physiological deterioration (e.g., Belanoff, Kalehzan, Sund, Ficek, & Schatzberg, 2001; Ford & Erlinger, 2004).
[These studies] emphasize that there are some negative experiences that we don’t just “get over,” and that time does not heal. The average age of participants in the ACE Study was 57, indicating that the traumatic events that led to disease had occurred half a century earlier.
The authors of the ACE Study compared the health care system’s focus on treating disease in adults to a fire brigade directing their water at the smoke, rather than at the fire below. They recommend that health care be refocused on treating the emotional traumas that are the source of most “physical” disease. While “psychological” and “physical” might be distinctions that are useful in medicine, the body simply does not make those distinctions.
(Me again…) If you are ready to redirect the water to the fire below the smoke and focus on healing emotional trauma, no matter how far in your past that might be, I would love to help you.
Book a free discovery call, now, to start your healing journey.
Here’s to conquering stress.
The Stress Experts
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